Religion brings meaning and solace to the lives of millions around the world, but throughout history it has also been the cause of war and suffering.
With often outdated prejudices and dogmatic teachings, religion can exert power over society. Yet since the time of Enlightenment, waves of progressive thinkers and scientific breakthroughs have challenged religion’s supreme authority and offered transparent ways of understanding the universe.
Yet with similar power, science has created the means for humanity to destroy itself, and lives within the limits of what it can prove on hard evidence.
We ask, should religion move aside for science to be the main authority in life? Or should science stay in the laboratory? Have the crusades of the New Atheists gone too far?
A panel of scientists, religious experts and thinkers debate both sides of the argument, including:
- Julian Baggini, philosopher and author of numerous books including most recently The Edge of Reason: A Rational Sceptic in an Irrational World.
- Sughra Ahmed, researcher and community activist, senior programs manager at the Woolf Institute in the Centre for Policy and Public Education in Cambridge, and the first female Chair of the Islamic Society of Britain. She regularly contributes to debates in the media and is a contributor to Radio 4's Thought for the Day. In 2014 she was awarded the Noor Inayat Khan Memorial Award for Muslim Woman of the Year at the British Muslim Awards.
- Dr Suzie Sheehy, an award-winning particle accelerator physicist at the University of Oxford, specialising in challenging high power proton accelerators for future applications. Suzie is passionate about the promotion and communication of science, for which she has received a number of awards. In 2010, she received the esteemed British Science Association Lord Kelvin Award and the University of Oxford Vice Chancellors Civic Award for her work in presenting science to school and public audiences.
- David Hutchings, Physics teacher at Pocklington School who sits on the Institute of Physics Branch Committee for Yorkshire. He is the co-author of new book Let There Be Science (Lion, 2017), written with Professor Tom McLeish FRS of Durham University.
The panel is chaired by Anna Starkey, broadcaster, comedian and scientist who is currently creative director of a top UK interactive science centre, At-Bristol.